In this week’s Medicare round-up, Congress is working to fix flaws in our Social Security program. Humana denies overcharging Medicare for nearly $200 million. We have a recap of the top Medicare news stories you may have missed this week!
Democrats Consider Scaling Back Health Funding In Infrastructure Package
On Capitol Hill, Democratic lawmakers have hinted at scaling back funding for Medicare expansion and drug pricing reform in the next phase of President Biden’s infrastructure package. The “social infrastructure” portion of the $2 trillion-plus bill gives lawmakers a chance to slash pharmaceutical costs and expand the social safety net. With Democrats in control of the house, it could put pressure on President Biden to fulfill one of his promises, including lowering Medicare’s eligibility age to 60.
Federal Audit: Humana Overcharged Medicare Roughly $200 Million
A newly released federal audit revealed Humana inadequately collected up to $200 million from Medicare in 2015. Authorities said the company received the money by exaggerating the health symptoms of some of their Florida Medicare beneficiaries. Federal investigators said Humana faces “the largest audit penalty imposed on a Medicare Advantage company.” Right now, the insurance company is working closely with Medicare officials to look into the allegations. Humana is one of the nation’s largest Medicare Advantage insurers, with nearly 400 million members.
Social Security Reform Under Scrutiny
Congress has taken steps to repair the country’s faulty social security program and restore trust in Americans. Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney reintroduced the TRUST (Time to Rescue United States’ Trust) Act. The bill includes the Social Security Old-Aged Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Social Security Disability Trust Fund. Both are expected to expire in 2032. The latest version of the TRUST Act has bipartisan support. It’s receiving pushback from Social Security advocates. They believe that the bill could decrease benefits. The legislation would avoid the normal legislative process, causing more concern.
“Near-poor” Americans Face Medicare Disparity, Health Policy Study Finds
Health policy researchers discovered disparities for Americans who are considered “near-poor.” Near-poor Americans live above the federal poverty level but just below the U.S. income average. “Near-poor” Americans’ incomes are between 100%-200% of the poverty level. “Near-poor” people who qualify for Medicare cannot purchase Medicaid coverage. The study found they face pay higher medical bills and “and may forgo essential health care.” Researchers said it’s due to a coverage “cliff” in Medicaid. Near-poor beneficiaries impacted by the coverage cliff paid an additional $2,288 in out-of-pocket expenses over two years.